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Leading Through Empowerment

Leading today centers around empowerment now more than ever. Old power leadership models centralized knowledge and perceived wisdom, where new power leading harnesses the potential of our teammates.

How it used to play out:

An oligopoly of figures inside of an organization, or even in government, would compete for who has the best vision and can even distribute the most resources. “Follow me, and I will not lead you astray!” Sound familiar?

What’s changing fast:

Teams advancing people into formal leadership roles who genuinely lift them up, recognizing the leadership potential in each team member. In part due to our interconnectedness, we all have some platform with which to convey ideas and build a following. Belonging and self-actualizing stem more and more from systems which decentralize wisdom, providing group leadership which is more horizontal than ever.

Here are a few observations for empowering your team members:

  • MAKE IT THEIR PLAN: As good as your plan is, buy-in to any plan is essential. Ask the team about reasonable expectations and timelines, no matter how small the project. You can fill-in the holes, but good teams hold each other accountable.
  • FOSTER OPEN-ENDED CONVERSATIONS: Ask open-ended questions, then actually listen to the answers given. It helps to use a white-board and write down keys points to reinforce you are listening and taking input seriously.
  • CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE: This is an uncomfortable time. Checking your privilege requires a constant reminder but helps to empathize with colleagues in the room. We all have some privilege to appreciate, just consider this your humble act for the team. Try to figure out where everyone is really coming from and where they are going.
  • REJECT CREDIT: People know who did the work, and the truth eventually shines through. Use every excuse possible to give genuine credit to team members.
  • DON’T MINIMIZE WHAT A TEAM MEMBER IS GOING THROUGH. My colleague Joan Hibdon, writes, “……our reactions today can impact relationships far into the future.”

About the Author

With experience in the healthcare, manufacturing, and real estate industries, Sam Rasoul has managed accounting, marketing, sales, human resources, and operations functions to increase sales, reduce employee turnover, improve communications, restructure debt, optimize cash flow, negotiate vendor and partner contracts, expand operations, and coordinate strategy sessions. His nearly two decades of experience as an entrepreneur, business professor, CFO, and COO in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors enable him to understand a company’s dynamics, identify opportunities and barriers, and deliver people-centered solutions for organizational change.

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